Mild or severe hearing loss is a common condition in the United States, affecting more than 35 million Americans, according to National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys. That accounts for more than 15% of the entire adult population, which makes hearing loss one of the most widespread medical issues after arthritis and heart disease. Unfortunately, it is not always seen with the seriousness it deserves, which causes a great deal of medical and social complications to those affected by it. But why exactly does this happen and why do people overlook hearing issues so much? What do they risk by doing so?
Risks of leaving hearing loss untreated
Hearing is one of humans’ five senses and we all need it to function in society and interact with the world around us. From the moment a person’s hearing starts to deteriorate, that quality of that person’s life will decrease. Medical research shows that the damage goes much further than the ears and it can impact people in many ways:
- If hearing loss is caused by an infection or is a symptom of an underlying disease, neglecting to see a specialist can lead to serious medical complications.
- Reduced awareness of one’s surroundings. Hearing impairment increases the risk of accidents and personal injury, especially when driving or when operating machinery at the workplace. Pedestrians are also at risk, because they might not be able to hear vehicles.
- Reduced performance at the workplace because instructions are not understood.
- Poor communication with friends, family and co-workers. People who have trouble hearing often feel ashamed to ask interlocutors to repeat themselves and the miss out on important details.
- Irritability and anger because one cannot connect with society
- In the long run, hearing loss can be even more harmful can cause emotional scarring. People who live with this condition and refuse to seek medical attention for years start to distance themselves from others and refuse to connect to colleagues and family. They can experience depression, anxiety and a constant feeling that they are unable to communicate. For children and teenagers this condition can become even more harmful, because it can interfere with cognitive development and social skills development.
Why do so many hearing loss cases go undiagnosed?
From the facts above, it’s clear that hearing loss is not harmful and it should be addressed immediately. But why do so many people neglect it? The most common reason is that they simply are not aware of it. Hearing loss almost always occurs gradually, so people don’t realize something is wrong. They imagine that their conversation partners don’t speak loud enough or that the TV volume is too low.
Another reason why people don’t seek medical attention is that they believe in myths and don’t know what a hearing test consists of or what it means to live with a hearing aid:
Biggest hearing loss myths
- Hearing loss is temporary and it will come back on its own in no time. That is not true. Having a “bad ear” isn’t something that heals on its own and more often than not it needs treatment.
- People can easily live with a hearing impairment. They can live, but the quality of their lives is drastically affected, especially relationships with friends and family.
- GPs can diagnose hearing loss and they should have told you. Because conversations with a GP take place in a quiet room, the doctor might not realize there is a problem with your hearing.
- Hearing loss only happens to elderly people. Although being over 65 is a risk factor and most cases of hearing impairment occur in this age category, you can have hearing loss earlier in life, even in your 20s.
- Taking a hearing test is complicated and painful. In fact, going to a hearing test Colorado Springs is quick and painless. The test takes as little as five minutes and does not hurt at all: you will only wear a pair of headphones in a soundproof room and a specialist will play sounds at different frequencies for you. All you have to do is raise your hand when you hear a noise and this will be enough to diagnose a problem.
- Wearing a hearing aid is uncomfortable. Things are actually the other way around. Modern hearing aids are light and discrete. They work as amplifiers, helping you hear normally, and thus helping you function in society. The aid will be fitted according to your needs, so it will not hurt your ear after prolonged use. After a while, putting it on becomes second nature, as normal as putting on a watch in the morning.